Saturday, 23 February 2019

Review: Wonder Woman The Lies (DC Rebirth Volume 1)

In January 2016 DC Comics decided to relaunch many of their titles, under the rebirth branding. For the popular Wonder Woman comic, this was excellent news, erasing the shitty and sexist (at least in my opinion,) story from her previous New 52 incarnation. The Lies is a collection of some of the early comics following on from Rebirth, which gives the character a new and darker history. In this version, the character is darker, slightly jaded and is making some pretty shocking discoveries from her past. Intelligently drawn and told, it tells the story of a superhero who is struggling to come to terms with her past ... and what may or may not be real.

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this one and reading about a character who is so conflicted. It's best read in conjunction with Volume 2 Year One, which tells the origin story of the character. (Apparently when the comics were originally published, odd numbered comics told the present day story, while even numbered ones told the origin story.) A number of beloved characters, including Steve are back with their own conflicted pasts and histories.


Friday, 22 February 2019

Friday Funnies

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Allyson has always lived a predictable life. Intelligent and from an upper middle class family, she has done well at school, been accepted into a good college and now she is on a whirlwind tour of Europe with her best friend Melanie, a gift from her parents. Then by chance, Allyson encounters a group of actors and finds herself smitten with Willem, a charismatic young actor who has been drifting through Europe for the past two years. He convinces her to spend a day with him in Paris, a day which ends in heartbreak for Allyson. Over the next year, her experience causes her life to unravel and come back together in the most surprising of ways, until she decides to return to Europe and track down the man who broke her heart.

Funny, sad and ultimately hopeful, this is a near perfect coming of age story about a young woman who has been too afraid to live life on her own terms until she is more or less forced to. Allyson is a sympathetic character, a young woman who wants to please her parents and live up to their expectations, but who is also beginning to realise that the life they want for her may not be the one that she wants for herself. And the story with Willem is quite intriguing, as is that ending. 

Initially, I wasn't sure how I felt about this story, as I assumed that it was going to be quite painful, but the author cleverly weaves in seeds of hope along the way. There is a sequel, focusing on Willem and his experiences after he and Allyson parted company in Paris, which I hope to read soon.

Highly recommended.  

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Review: Shattered Memories by VC Andrews

After being abducted by a creep and discovering that the whole thing was a set up by her jealous and utterly insane twin sister, Kaylee Blossom Fitzgerald is at home and trying to make sense of what just happened to her in Shattered Memories, the third novel in the Mirror Sisters Series, written by VCA ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman. With both her mother and twin sister in a mental health facility, Kaylee must adapt to life in the outside world. And the whole thing is utterly dull. Readers are sent down the usual path of a VCA novel, in which Kaylee starts at a new school where no one knows her, she doesn't make many friends but she does get to hook up with a new bloke and learns to stand up for herself. And, of course, a few odd things happen every now and again, you know just to remind readers that these books are supposed to be shocking. Though, quite frankly, I'd be a whole lot more shocked at this point if someone, anyone, actually did something truly interesting. (And no, what happens in that tacked on epilogue does not count.) There are also numerous dated references to pop culture and fashion.

This one is standard VCA fare. Kaylee more or less recovers, the nutty relatives make a brief return for the sake of doing nutty things and the whole thing goes out with a whimper rather than a bang. It's probably a little bit less disturbing than the other two titles in the series, but by no means is this a well crafted or well plotted book.

Not recommended.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Review: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Something strange is happening in Santa Lora, a small college town in Southern California. It starts when one girl experiences flu like symptoms, falls asleep and cannot be woken. Soon other residents of the college begin to fall asleep, as do other residents of the town. As the virus sweeps through the town, so does fear, panic and the need to survive at all costs.

Beautifully written, this novel was an utterly captivating story about an icky subject. Through her many characters from isolated student Mei, to pregnant victim Rebecca, to young parents Annie and Ben, to Libby and Sara the children of a conspiracy theorist, through to the ageing Nathaniel whose story takes a very different twist, we experience the many sides to this strange phenomena, which in many ways echoes the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. And the whole thing is fascinating. Much like Nevil Schute's novel about the end of the world, On the Beach, many characters find a newfound sense of purpose and hope through the disaster and it's quite interesting to see who grows, and how.

And just wait until you discover the reason for the title.

Overall, I found this one to be quite captivating. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy of The Dreamers.

Karen Thompson Walker is also the author of The Age of Miracles, a coming of age novel set against a very surprising backdrop. 

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

Couldn't resist a little dark humour instead of the lovey dovey stuff. Sorrynotsorry!

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Friday, 8 February 2019

Friday Funnies


Thursday, 7 February 2019

Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

Set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and picking up where the comic book series left off, Slayer tells the story of Nina, a sixteen year old student at the Watcher's Academy, one who has never truly embraced the life of a Watcher, and who is considered inferior in almost every possible way to her twin sister Artemis. She does not get along well with her mother, a powerful member of council who also seems to believe that she's inferior. 

Then it turns out that Nina is the newest Chosen One, and it seems, she will be the last slayer ever. And, naturally, it doesn't take long for various forces of darkness to start showing up and for there to be an adult or two with their own agenda.

I enjoyed Buffy and I have enjoyed some of the other novels of Kiersten White, so I am disappointed to report that I did not enjoy this one. It plays very young for a YA novel (the protagonist may just as well have been about thirteen,) and parts of the novel came across as a little ... cold. Then again, I am also a bit outside of the target audience and this may have a thing or two to do with my grumbles. Still, if you're suffering Buffy withdrawal while we all wait to see whether or not the reboot will happen, this book may just appeal to you.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Review: The Secret Life of Sarah Meads by VK Tritschler

Fans of Bridget Jones are in for a treat with this story of a stale marriage that goes painfully--and hilariously--awry. Sarah Meads is married, working mum, but life hasn't been as well, happy as what it should be. Enter the meddling Antonio who wants to give Sarah a push for his own reasons and what follows is a journey of self-discovery and letting go.

This was a fun refreshing tale, written by a South Australian author. It's not afraid to send up contemporary family life and the story is all the better for it.

Thank you to author V.K. Tritschler for my review copy.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019

Monday, 4 February 2019

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Review: The Phantom 2019 Annual, The Phantom at War

This collection may not be the best starting point for new readers of the Ghost Who Walks (especially if they're not twelve year old boys,) but it rewards old phans (yes, that was intentional,) in bucketloads. For the 2019 annual Frew, the Australian publisher of The Phantom has put together a collection of war themed stories, including the 1942 newspaper serial The Phantom Goes to War. The comic, which is far more brutal than a typical Phantom story, tells the story of how The Phantom and his friends outwit a group of Japanese soldiers who attempt to invade Bangalla. This particular story is popular among hardcore phans and, apparently is the most requested Phantom reprint of all time. (See more here.) Contemporary audiences will make of the story what they will, but it is important to remember the sentiment and the growing unease that was occurring on both sides of the Pacific at the time that the comic was first published.

Three more war themed comics feature in the annual, including a Vietnam War themed story by none other than Paul Mason, who many phans will be familiar with through his work on the Kid Phantom comic. Also included is a replica of what issue 330 would have been, had it been released. (Printing issues at the time meant that issue 330 was never published. Read more here.)  

Overall, the annual is enjoyable enough, though it probably has more to offer old phans than new ones.

Random Trivia: Frew Publications has released a Phantom comic in Australia every fortnight since 1948. 

Friday, 1 February 2019

Friday Funnies